When renting a property, your landlord will most likely require you to pay a security deposit alongside the first month’s rent. The primary purpose of a security deposit is to motivate you to pay your rent and abide by the rental contract’s terms. The security deposit also ensures that any property damage that is attributable to you is taken care of when you leave. When it is time to move out, however, you are entitled to your security deposit.
However, there are instances when the landlord may reserve the right to withhold all or part of your security deposit. But exactly when can this happen?
Understanding the legal reasons for withholding security deposits
Generally, your landlord can withhold your security deposit if you have rent arrears. However, there are a few other situations when your landlord can withhold rent. Here are some of them:
If you break the lease
Your landlord can withhold the security deposit if you break the tenancy contract. Still, depending on the provisions of the contract, your landlord may charge an extra month’s rent in addition to the withheld security deposit. This, however, may not apply if the breach was justifiable; say if the property becomes inhabitable.
If there is damage to the property
Any occupied property will experience wear and tear. And this is absolutely normal. However, extreme damage to property like holes in the walls, broken windows and damage or missing carbon monoxide and smoke detectors could be indicators of negligence on the part of the tenant. For such damages, your landlord may withhold or deduct your security deposit.
Withholding a security deposit can be a tricky subject. Knowing your legal options can help you protect your rights and interests if the landlord is unjustifiably attempting to withhold your security deposit.